REPORTS SAY CEASEFIRE REACHED FROM 4:30 AM BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE GAZA TERROR GROUPS.
Israel and the Gaza terror groups have reached a ceasefire to end two days of intense fighting that saw more than 600 rockets fired into Israel and 4 civilians killed, which went into effect at 04:30 AM, Arabic-language media reported early Monday, citing sources in Hamas and Islamic Jihad. There was no confirmation or comment from Israel.
The reports come after several hours of quiet and after a previous report of a truce appeared premature, ruptured by rocket fire and airstrikes.
Late Sunday, Hebrew and Arabic media reported that mediators from Egypt and the European Union were on the verge of successfully brokering a ceasefire between Israel and terror groups in the coastal enclave.
The reports cited a Western diplomat, who said the nascent agreement would go into effect around midnight on Monday. UN Middle East Envoy Nikolay Mladenov was said to be mediating the talks along with Egyptian intelligence officials.
But as midnight came, the IDF continued to strike targets in Gaza and rocket sirens were heard across southern Israel. A salvo of rockets fired at the Ashkelon area was intercepted by the Iron Dome system. There were no reports of injuries.
There were no further rockets or airstrikes after 02:00 AM, perhaps indicating progress in the ceasefire talks.
The Arabic media reports said the original ceasefire had floundered over an Israeli refusal to allow in Qatari cash. Hamas was adamant it wanted the money ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that starts Monday in the Palestinian territories and much of the Muslim World.
For it’s part, Israel did not comment reports of the deal, but it has refrained from doing so in the past, even denying reported ceasefires, which went on to hold for days, weeks and or months at a time.
Despite reports on a truce, local authorities announced Monday schools would remain closed within a 40 kilometer (25 miles) radius from Gaza
Shortly after midnight, the Gaza terror groups said the fighting would continue until Israel gives in to their demands and acknowledges the understandings reached.
“The battle will not end until the occupation responds affirmatively to our people’s demands,” the Joint Command Center of Armed Palestinian factions in Gaza said in a statement early Monday.
“We will not allow the settlers to leave their shelters as long as the enemy’s leadership denies its understandings with the resistance,” it said.
Earlier Sunday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that restoring calm in and around the Gaza Strip would be possible if Israel agreed to stop all retaliatory strikes in the Palestinian enclave.
A senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official said the group would also be willing to hold its fire if Israel agreed to its “obligations” — an apparent reference to pledges from Jerusalem last month to ease restrictions around the Gaza Strip and allow $30 million dollars in Qatari aid into the coastal enclave.
On Sunday night, the Israeli military said it bombed some 40 “terror targets” in the Gaza Strip in its latest round of airstrikes, bringing the IDF’s total number of raids up to 320 in the past two days. The military said it targeted “observation headquarters, underground bunkers, weapons caches, military facilities, launchpads, observation posts and more” in its most recent air raids.
The army said it targeted sites connected to both the Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza, and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Palestinian medical officials reported 29 dead since Friday, including at least 11 terrorists, The Times of Israel confirmed.
The high-level security cabinet huddled for five hours on Sunday over the violence that killed four Israeli civilians in a single day, the deadliest casualty rate for Israel since the 2014 Gaza war.
Following the meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a brief statement saying that the army has been instructed “to continue the strikes and prepare for them to continue.”
The statement added that the government’s “main consideration is the security of the state and its citizens.” This appeared to refer to claims that Israel might cave to the demands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in order to prevent the fight from continuing into Israel’s Memorial and Independence Days later this week and the international Eurovision Song Contest planned for May 14-18 in Tel Aviv.
United States Deploys USS Abraham Lincoln With Bomber Strike Force To Middle East After Hearing Iran Planned Attack On US Forces In Region
Late Sunday night, the White House made a surprise announcement that the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force were being deployed to the Middle East in response to unspecified “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”A statement from National Security Adviser John Bolton said the military deployments were intended “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”
The United States is deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East on short notice in response to clear indications that Iran and Iranian proxies were planning an attack on U.S. forces in the region, said a U.S. official.
Well this was quite the surprise tonight. As a very shaky ceasefire is called between Israel and Hamas, the United States makes the stunning announcement that we are sending over the USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber attack squad to the Middle East after threats from Iran.
Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps, and this is only a guess, but maybe Netanyahu is planning an all-out assault on Haza in Gaza, not a ceasefire, and President Trump is sending over some pretty substantial backup just in case? Because the timing of sending the Lincoln over is suspicious to say the least. But that’s my guess, let’s see what the next few hours bring.
Aircraft carrier sent to Middle East after indications Iran planned attack on US forces
FROM ABC NEWS: Late Sunday night, the White House made a surprise announcement that the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force were being deployed to the Middle East in response to unspecified “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”
A statement from National Security Adviser John Bolton said the military deployments were intended “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”
“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” the statement continued.
A U.S. official told ABC News that the U.S. military deployments were in response to “clear indications” that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were preparing for a possible attack on U.S. forces in the region either on land or at sea.
The official said that the decision to send the forces to the Middle East was made Sunday. “The movement of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to the region was expedited and it was ordered there effective immediately,” said the official. READ MORE
Air Power Demo • USS Abraham Lincoln
Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 participate in an air power demonstration with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). The deployed strike group include staffs, ships and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group 12 (CSG-12), Destroyer Squadron 2 (DESRON-2), USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) and Carrier Air Wing 7 (CVW-7); as well as Alvaro de Bazan-class Frigate ESPS Mendez Nunez (F-104).